The average person doubles their alcohol intake during the holiday season. After all, who can say no to some delicious eggnog or hot buttered rum? And while some moderate alcohol intake of certain types of alcoholic beverages can be healhy — we’re looking at you, red wine — excessive alcohol consumption during the holidays can put a damper on your immune system right in the middle of cold and flu season. Here’s how to navigate Christmas drinks and festive parties with an eye on healthier alcohol consumption.
How Too Many Christmas Drinks Impact Your Immune System
1. Alcohol Pulls Resources Away From Other Important Bodily Functions
No part of your body exists in a vacuum, and every system in your body affects the other. Thus, while we often think of alcohol only affecting our liver and other detox organs, its impact can trigger a cascading effect in your body.
“Drinking gives your body work to do that keeps it from other processes,” explains the Cleveland Clinic.
“Once you take a drink, your body makes metabolizing it a priority — above processing anything else,” adds the clinic. “Unlike proteins, carbohydrates and fats, your body doesn’t have a way to store alcohol, so it has to move to the front of the metabolizing line. This is why it affects your liver, as it’s your liver’s job to detoxify and remove alcohol from your blood.”
2. Alcohol Affects Your Gut Bacteria
The bacteria that live in your digestive tract have “essential” roles in maintaining your immune system, report researchers. For example, they help break down various byproducts and also help to produce enzymes, amino acids, and neurotransmitters. However, because of the toxic effects of excessive alcohol, the alcohol kills much of your healthy bacteria and disrupts your gut health (and therefore your immune health).
3. Alcohol Impairs Your Sleep
If you imbibe too many Christmas drinks, you may find the alcohol disrupts both your sleep duration, your sleep quality, and how long it takes you to fall asleep. Put simply, too much alcohol is bad for your sleep.
And your immune system needs you to get a lot of rest in order for the strongest immunity.
In fact, a study found that people who slept fewer than seven hours a night were three times more likely to get sick than those who slept eight hours a night.
If you want a stronger immune system while enjoying your Christmas drinks, consider:
- Limiting your intake as much as possible
- Avoiding Christmas drinks with too much sugar
- Staying hydrated during all Christmas parties
- Taking an immunity-boosting supplement, such as BioPro-Plus 500.